2021 Cheltenham Festival tips – Meath master Noel Meade’s Festival candidates
Noel Meade Cheltenham Festival team
As if the Irish trainer team wasn’t already powerful enough with the likes of Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead among its’ ranks the presence of Noel Meade gives further strength to an already impressive line-up. We’ve picked out a few of the Noel Meade Cheltenham Festival runners who could post big runs at the ‘greatest show on turf’.
Based in County Meath the name of Noel Meade is an instantly recognisable one and the top Irish trainer will be part of an impressive Irish Cheltenham Festival battalion to descend on the Cotswolds and the ‘greatest show on turf’ with a number of runners across the four days.
Meade might lack the raw strength in depth or class of horse afforded to Mullins or Elliott, but Meade is no stranger to the big stage despite his modest Cheltenham Festival haul of winners where his last was Road To Respect back in 2017.
The seven-time Irish Champion Trainer is perhaps best remembered for Harchibald who under the care of Meade won plenty of success; but the horse’s defeat in the 2005 Champion Hurdle will long haunt punters and possibly Meade himself with the horse seemingly cruising but finding nil on the run to the line and beaten by Hardy Eustace.
Meade is likely to send a relatively small team of runners to Cheltenham in comparision to his compatriots; but he has a couple of live chances of success in the handicaps and some of the Graded races where his runners could sneak into the frame. We’ve looked at a few of the trainer’s possible runners and highlight some of the Noel Meade Cheltenham Festival team who might post a big run at the Festival in March.
Noel Meade Cheltenham Festival runners on day one
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
Meade is likely to have a runner in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival and THEDEVILSCOACHMAN isn’t one to be underestimated despite taking on the likes of Appreciate It, Metier and Ballyadam.
Owned by JP McManus the Elusive Pimpernel suffered his only hurdles defeat to date when finishing fifth behind Appreciate It over Christmas in the Future Champions’ Novices’ Hurdle although he wasn’t helped by making a bad mistake two out and he’s since bounced back to register wins at Navan and Punchestown at a lower level.
He was impressive in beating French Light comfortably when last seen taking a Listed prize at Punchestown where he kept on strongly in the face of a challenge over the last to run out a ready winner and there’s likely more in the locker to come.
His jumping will need to improve if he’s to make his mark at this level but the stiff nature of Cheltenham might suit him and at a backable each-way price punters with Cheltenham Festival free bets could be tempted to side with him as a potential play for all he’d need more at this level.
Ultima Handicap Chase
The Grand National at Aintree is likely the main target for TOUT EST PERMIS who isn’t certain to make the journey to Cheltenham but the Linda’s Lad gelding would have to be afforded some respect if he were to line up.
The eight-year old has some very smart form over fences to call upon and previous Festival experience also having finished third in last season’s Pertemps Final over hurdles.
Although he’s yet to win in either discipline since beating Sub Lieutenant in a Thyrles Grade Two back in January 2019 he has posted a string of very solid efforts in defeat and he was only beaten five lengths by The Storyteller in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase in October.
Last seen disappointing in the Theystes Chase where he might have found the ground against him he’s surely better than that and he could make his presence felt if taking his chance.
National Hunt Chase
EUROBOT proved well suited by a thorough test of stamina and the Malinas gelding ought to appreciate the even stiffer nature of this contest where despite big odds he could run well.
A point to point winner he also struck over hurdles at the first attempt before a fine fourth to Allaho at Clonmel. He switched to chasing for the following season but ran just once which saw him finish third to Smoking Gun.
Back from eleven months off this term he’s ran three times, winning at Thurles before getting rid of Sean Flanagan midrace behind Monkfish in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase and he perhaps wasn’t suited by heavy ground when down the field at Naas latest where he showed a tendency to jump left in the race won by Eklat De Rire.
Better ground in March would likely suit while the step in trip may prove another positive and the Gigginstown runner could run well at a big price.
Noel Meade day two Cheltenham Festival runners
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
CASK MATE was a smart novice hurdler a few seasons ago, winning at Ballinrobe before reeling off a number of runner-up efforts prior to a lengthy absence of almost three years but the Kalanisi gelding has looked as good as ever since his return.
Wins at Limerick and Punchestown were followed by a narrow defeat behind Ballyadam in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse and he ran better than the bare result from a big price when down the field behind Appreciate It in the Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle.
With that rival and Ballyadam both likely contenders in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – a race for which Noel Meade’s charge also holds an entry – it may be that he switches to this longer trip for the day two opener and he’s won over this trip in the past so the return to the stiffer test would be no issue.
Whether he’s good enough is another question but it isn’t hard to think he might be capable of a decent performance despite his lengthy odds in the betting.
Meade could have two runners in the day two Cheltenham Festival closer of the Champion Bumper with both Highland Charge and HARRY ALONZO amongst the entries.
The former was a narrow winner of his debut at Fairyhouse back in November and the Gigginstown runner could improve for that experience although the form of that contest might not be the strongest.
The latter however stepped up on a very promising runner-up finish at Fairyhouse last January to make a winning return in a Leopardstown contest on Boxing Day, readily coming clear of Top Bandit and the Montmartre gelding looks sure to improve where he could prove a smart individual.
That winning form was boosted by the fourth scoring next time and while he features at big odds in the closing race on Wednesday he could give a very good account with further improvement anticipated.
Noel Meade Cheltenham day three runners
DALY TIGER was a decent novice chaser, making the frame in a Grade Three behind Brahma Bull and finishing ninth to Imperial Aura in last season’s Listed Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase.
The Tiger Groom holds an entry for the Ryanair Chase on day three of the Festival and he would come into the race on the back of two wins from three starts this campaign although both have been gained in the handicap ranks.
A winner at Punchestown in November on his return he got back on the scoresheet following a disappointing Fairyhouse outing to win there in January where he beat Pont Aven by five lengths. That win has seen him hiked up 10lbs to 157 and while he’s an improving sort the step up to this level is likely to prove beyond him given last year’s winner Min is rated 169 on the back of his pulled-up effort in the Dublin Chase.
That leaves Noel Meade’s charge a fair bit to do if he’s to make his presence felt and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he were to be taken out at some stage before the contest. He’d likely struggle against this level of opposition if lining up and taking his chance and he’d be hard to fancy on back form that he’d be anywhere near good enough.
Meade could be represented by two in this race with both Diol Ker and BEACON EDGE both listed among the entries for this race.
The former has proven himself a decent sort over hurdles and fences, finishing fourth to Monkfish at Fairyhouse last November before winning back over hurdles on Boxing Day at Limerick with a defeat of Born By The Sea.
The Martaline gelding subsequently lost little caste in defeat when taking in the Galmoy Hurdle where he found only Sam’s Profile too strong but he’ll surely have to step up again on that performance which came in a perhaps weak renewal.
Of the Meade pair Beacon Edge looks the more solid and the Doyen gelding brings a good level of form into the Stayers’ Hurdle picture and he was last seen mowing Fury Road down late in the recent Boyne Hurdle where he looked as if a stiffer test would bring about even more improvement.
A dual winner last October he also ran a good third to Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace where he was beaten less than one length and likely unsuited by two miles back from a break behind Bachasson at Naas next time he showed his class latest.
Having looked to need every inch of that 2m5f trip there could be more to come from him trying this stiffer test and he could one representing a bit of value in the each-way market.
Noel Meade Cheltenham Festival day four runners
CURIOUS BRIDE was a decent sort on the flat, winning at Cork last September and the Excelebration filly has been progressive since switching to hurdles although she ran a shocker when last seen at Navan and was possibly amiss.
Not beaten far on her hurdles debut at Cork in December when finishing runner-up to Autumn Evening she went one better next time at Punchestown where she was impressive in beating off Palm Beach; but she ran no sort of race latest in a Listed hurdle at Navan won by Atlantic Fairy and a bounce back will be required assuming she’s none the worse for that disappointment.
Even if at her best however this would be a very tall order for her to make her presence felt against some top-rated juveniles and a struggle would likely be on the cards for her if taking her chance in the Cheltenham day four opener and she’d be hard to make a case for as a likely winner.
A winner between the flags prior to switching to hurdles HE’S A HARDY BLOKE has been progressing well over timber this term since also landing a Clonmel bumper last October.
He immediately faced a tough ask in taking on Ballyadam on his hurdles debut where he finished a distant third to that rival who is set to contest the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle; but he won his next two outings in good style, readily seeing off a useful sort in Takarengo at Cork in January.
The Aizavoski gelding struggled to get competitive in the Ladbrokes Hurdle when last seen at Leopardstown during the Dublin Racing Festival although he wasn’t helped in meeting trouble in running from which he didn’t recover and he could quickly bounce back to resume earlier progress.
This would be a tough test of his credentials but he’s proven in a big field and has enough experience to cope so if lining up he could be an interesting outsider to consider.